A new programme aiming at ensuring every child leaving primary school by 2020 can swim has been criticised for banning adults from using swimming pools at the same time.
Conwy County Borough Council’s leisure service school swimming lessons initiative, the first of its kind in Wales, will be piloted at Llandudno Swimming Centre during this academic year and will see pupils undergo an intensive programme
But members of the public have been told they will be not be able to use the pool at the same time as schools for reasons of child welfare.
The publication of a new ‘safe practice in school swimming policy’ leaflet follows a council review of the practice of school classes and adult members of the public using swimming pools at the same time.
The leaflet says the review “has highlighted that our current operation presents an unacceptable risk in relation to child welfare and one that needs addressing as soon as possible”.
Conwy resident Sarah Andrew, however, was unimpressed.
She told the Pioneer: “I don’t think it presents a risk to children at all.
“The pool is not overcrowded and the children change in a separate area.
“Previously they used the training pool and blocked off several lanes in the main pool for the schoolchildren, leaving the rest free for the public.”
She added: “I think, it is passing a very poor message to say to say you can’t be in a public place with adults.
“If, for example, they took a school trip to Conwy Castle, they wouldn’t close it to the public because there are schoolchildren there.
“I can understand smaller pools being closed to the public, but not the large pool at Llandudno.
“I think it is an over-zealous and unreasonable interpretation of health and safety rules and is heavy-handed. I think there is no evidence this is a danger to child welfare”
The new programme will see pupils receive swimming lessons over 10 consecutive days, rather than weekly sessions, as in the past.
Osian Williams, Conwy Council’s principal PE and sport officer, said: “This pilot scheme will result in significantly larger swimming class sizes and. as a consequence, the swimming centre timetable will need to be amended.
“The increase in class sizes also adds to the safeguarding responsibilities and as such the centre will be unable to operate the school lesson programme alongside general public access.
“Therefore, from September 25, 2017 until May 25, 2018 the pool will be closed to the public between the hours of 9am and 12.15pm.”